Marlins trade for David Robertson

Well, that settles Miami’s closer situation!

Well, that settles Miami’s closer situation!

One of Major League Baseball’s most accomplished active relievers is coming to Miami. As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Marlins are acquiring right-hander David Robertson from the New York Mets in exchange for two young prospects, INF Marco Vargas and C Ronald Hernández. Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms that the Marlins are eating all of the money still owed to the pending free agent through season’s end (approx. $3.7M). The deal is now official.

Robertson had been the Mets’ main closer this season. He has accumulated 171 saves over parts of 15 MLB seasons with a 2.84 ERA and 2.96 FIP along the way. Even at 38 years old, his 27.9% strikeout rate ranks in the 78th percentile among all pitchers—that is significantly better than any of the Marlins’ other right-handed relievers. With A.J. Puk struggling throughout the month of July, Robertson figures to supplant him in the ninth-inning role.

Robertson’s pitch mix consists of a cutter, curveball and slider. His cutter is averaging 93.2 miles per hour in 2023, the highest velocity he’s had for that pitch since 2011. And despite being only 5’11”, he gets terrific extension off the mound, so his velo plays up.

This week, the Marlins traded Dylan Floro to the Minnesota Twins and lost Matt Barnes to season-ending hip surgery. They had been the members of Miami’s bullpen with the most extensive playoff experience. However, Robertson has gotten more October reps than both of them combined (2.78 ERA in 45.1 IP across eight different years).

In a microscopic sample, Robertson has dominated during his previous appearances at LoanDepot Park (7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K with 4 SV). The Marlins will be the seventh MLB team that he has played for.

Vargas ranked 15th on our latest Fish On First Top 30 list. Hernández ranked 18th. Both have excelled in the Florida Complex League this season, drawing more walks than strikeouts, knocking on the door for a promotion to full-season ball.

The Marlins had a full 40-man roster prior to this move. The club announced that Matt Barnes has been transferred to the 60-day IL to make room for Robertson. My educated guess is that Bryan Hoeing will be optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville to get Robertson onto the active roster prior to Friday’s game (the Marlins haven’t used Hoeing since July 19).

As soon as Monday, the Marlins should be getting left-hander Andrew Nardi (triceps inflammation) back from the injured list. Huascar Brazoban and George Soriano are the most likely candidates to be optioned at that point.

Although Miami’s already-weak farm system is taking a hit here, there is still ample pitching to use as chips to make additional upgrades prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

This is the third time in as many years that these NL East rivals have linked up to complete a trade. In February 2021, they exchanged Jordan Yamamoto for then-prospect Federico Polanco (those players have since retired and been released, respectively). Then last November, the Marlins sent fringy big leaguers Elieser Hernández and Jeff Brigham to NY for prospects Jake Mangum (currently playing for Triple-A Jacksonville) and Franklin Sánchez (High-A Beloit).

Photo courtesy of New York Mets

5 responses to “Marlins trade for David Robertson”

  1. Now this was the trade I was hoping to see yesterday. A RHP bullpen arm with plenty of high-leverage experience, with bonus postseason experience! And we didn’t really give up much, all things considered. Marco Vargas might be a name we will have to look out for in our games against the Mets if he continues developing, but overall I like this trade. Some far off pieces for a rental. If there’s a time to go for a push, now is the time. Phillies, Reds, and Brewers haven’t really caught fire yet, The Mets are a trainwreck, and the Giants and Dbacks have slown down a bit.

    Now we have to see if we can snag a 3B. Berti is doing fine at 2B, and Jazz doesn’t look horrible in CF… Assuming he can stay healthy when he returns, at least. But we can’t call ourselves a playoff contender, and continue trotting out a guy with -1.1 fWAR.

    Starting Pitcher might also be a concern, too. Trevor Rogers is done for the year, even though our beat writers and Marlins brass won’t admit it. Edward Cabrera is looking less and less appealing as a starting pitcher because of his constant blister problems. And I’m not buying Johnny Cueto’s last start as legitimate. They’ve been rolling with bullpen games and a cooked 37 year old as their 4th and 5th options, while Eury Perez is down in AA conserving his workload. They need some backbone to that rotation. Being without one has hurt them significantly.

  2. This move is what many of us were expecting, a proven bullpen arm with closing experience. Going back to that podcast where Mr. Mish mentioned the usage of Puk in consecutive days, I think the management will still use A.J. as a main closer, and Robertson whenever consecutive close-game situations arrive, or a right-hand advantage.

    I am still not sure about the López trade, though. He does have more “pure stuff” than Floro, but his results have not been nearly good except for that 1st half last year. I guess Mel will try to use his magic on him. So far, it is a Robertson plus some depth for Floro, and that is an upgrade.

    I do not think more bullpen additions are coming since Nardi is close to returning and Soriano is doing extremely well. As a matter of fact, Soriano should probably be stretched as a full starter if Cueto/Garrett are struggling, all while Eury finishes his “pause period”.

    That said, it is necessary to pursue a bat. I know some of us fans feel like we need an SP, and you guys are right, but another bat is much more urgent. Segura, both catchers have underperformed. Cooper is doing below his standards. Have a look at the regular roster by wRC+ (Fangraphs):
    1. Arráez 2B 147
    2. Soler DH 125
    3. Sánchez RF 116
    4. DLC LF 103
    5. Jazz CF 103
    Berti, Cooper, Hampson, and Gurriel follow, with wRC+ between 95 and 98, which is close to the league average. Everyone else is below 90, with the bottom 4: Stallings 59, García 58, Segura 54, and Fortes 52. With a lineup with only 3 batters above average, this team needs 1 more at the very minimum, but ideally two.

    When García and Jazz join the team, Hampson and Myers will be sent down. That is an improvement mostly because when Jazz is healthy he provides both power and speed, but also lots of strikeouts. Stallings, Fortes, Cooper, Gurriel, Arráez, Segura, Wendle, Berti, DLC, Jazz, Sánchez, Soler, and García is how the lineup is going to look like.

    So the OF and bench players are covered, but Kim can get creative with the infield. Segura is an obvious bench candidate, same for both catchers. In fact, anyone but Arráez is subject to an upgrade in the infield. Any solid bat that plays any infield position including C should be a trade target. Candelario, Donovan, Morel, Yan Gomes, and Ha-Seong Kim, all make sense at the moment.

  3. Glad to see the Marlins jumping in. When was the last time the Marlins were buyers at the deadline? Doesn’t look like they gave up much that will hurt them with prospects this far away.

    1. First time buying at the deadline since 2020, but first time in a “normal” full-length season since 2016.

  4. Mets declaring themselves as sellers is certainly a choice. .

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